Review: ‘Moonlight by the Sea’

Anybody trying to create science-fiction on a microbudget deserves applause for enterprise, but the enthusiasm pretty much stops there for Justin Hennard's New Mexico-shot first feature. Black-and-white pic will impress only devout genre obscurantists and those who thought the "Solaris" remake too damned exciting.

Anybody trying to create science-fiction on a microbudget deserves applause for enterprise, but the enthusiasm pretty much stops there for Justin Hennard’s New Mexico-shot first feature. Rehashing Big Brother cliches in enigmatically vague but still rote terms, black-and-white “Moonlight by the Sea” will impress only devout genre obscurantists and those who thought the “Solaris” remake too damned exciting. Multihyphenate Hennard does demonstrate talent in pic’s photographic department.

Top salesman for ominously all-encompassing entity known as the Corporation, Albion Moonlight (Sean Allen) crashes his spaceship in a remote planetary area. He wanders around the desert landscape, existential thoughts heightened by memory of the unconforming wife he’d betrayed. An accompanying android and a figure claiming to be his conscience offer their two cents. Meanwhile a Corp. administratrix (Mylinda Faith Royer) steers the search for Moonlight, getting kicks from tormenting an underling (Garry Peters) with her contradictory orders. Droning score, amateurishly mannered performances, and ponderously “philosophical” dialogue create a general aura of undergraduate pretentiousness that’s pretty tough sledding. Nonetheless, multi-format imagery (DV, 16mm and Super 8mm transferred to DV) is often striking, especially in outdoor sequences.

Moonlight by the Sea

Production

A Corporation production. Produced by Gonzalo Gonzalez. Directed by Justin Hennard. Screenplay, J.H. Ackly, Hennard.

Crew

Camera (B&W), Hennard; editor, Robert Hennard; music, Graham Reynolds; production designer, Anthony Locasto. Reviewed on videocassette, San Francisco, May 15, 2004. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Sean Allen, Mylinda Faith Royer, Kinsly Martin, Garry Peters, Prince Camp Jr., Sallie Guy.
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